We live in a society of increasingly subjective truth. On social media outlets, opinions and beliefs are shared, often without ever considering the reasons behind such opinions or beliefs. We have come to a stage in human history where truth is of our own making. Whomever seeks to tell us of a different way, or point out where our truth becomes deficient, can become our hated enemy. Deceit gnaws away at the efforts of good disciples to stand in the way of truth, and God’s people become more and more enamored with the ways of men than the pure word of God.
The truth was extremely important to Jesus. He said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32). Jesus knew and taught that the truth is the most powerful and important aspect of life. No earthly power or government can provide the freedom that the truth can. No one who honestly seeks the truth can be held back from knowing it.
Yet, we often set the importance of truth behind a multitude of distractions. If we are uncomfortable with the consequences of our actions, we can rationalize away any necessity to change. Instead of looking honestly in our spiritual mirror, blame is thrown elsewhere on a normal basis. This leads to a poisoned existence wherein truth is not a priority, and our shortsighted embrace of our basest desires makes us damaged and sinful beings.
Even if we are honest with ourselves, we may face a problem: we must properly understand and apply the truths of God to our lives. But before we can make truth a priority, we must consider what kind of truth we are dealing with. God’s truth is an objective truth. The greek word used in the New Testament is “aletheia”, defined as “The reality lying at the basis of an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a matter”(1). There is not much variation upon this definition. We must put precedence upon what is real, as opposed to what is fake. There is no place where we can take the truth and call it something else, unless we want to end up opposing God.
Knowing that God’s truth is objective, definitive, and plain, we can now work to make it a priority in our lives. The reason this is such a challenge is at least twofold.
Sometimes, we reject definitive, plain truth out of a resistance to change. We desire things to stay the way they are, and when someone approaches us with a different idea, we might react in a very hostile way.
Another possibility is that we might realize that our situation is not good, and that we need to change it, but refuse the method of change. For example, someone caught up in a sin that is destroying them will refuse help to truly combat the problem.
In each case, we resist truth, and the core of the problem is the lack of our own will. To put it plainly, we just don’t want to do it! Just as when our Lord shared His desire to have treated Jerusalem like a hen gathers her chicks, the problem was, “…you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). When we embrace Man’s truths, we embrace a lack of foundation. Failing to make truth the guiding role within our lives makes anyone who carries that truth an enemy to us. Man’s subjective truth will become whatever we want it to be. When that happens, and God’s truth takes second place, we will give in to sin continually, and there will be no hope for us in eternity.
The true solution is stated by Jesus. “If you abide in my word...” (John 8:31). To understand what the truth is, it means we must abide, or live, within the construct of the words of Jesus. What are the words of Jesus? He says, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28). Jesus’ words are the Father’s words. The Word of God is what we need to live in.
To know what it means to abide, let us reflect upon our own homes. Where someone lives is typically very important to them. It will reflect who they are, and usually those who own a home do their best to maintain it and care for it.
Abiding in the word requires so much more than even doing a short daily bible reading. It requires more than making it to church services each week. It requires even more than going to numerous Bible studies. Those who abide in the Word of God have a complete passion for their life in Christ, and continually want to know more about their Savior and King. In their zeal, they seek to find others who want to live in the Word as well.
If we are abiding in the Word, the promise that Jesus gives is, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Knowing that truth should build within us such a great love and importance for it! Living within the Word of God makes it such that one cannot consider any alternative. They must live in such a way that harmonizes with the nature of God, the teachings of Christ, and the walk of the Holy Spirit.
Making the truth our primary focus will ultimately lead to our freedom. Primarily, this is freedom in our salvation from sin. Furthermore, this freedom from sin allows us a positive freedom to do right. Even though we may do good things as sinners, and God can see and remember those things (Acts 10:1-4), we must remember that all we do as sinners only leads to death (Romans 6:20-23). Becoming a Christian makes us not only free from sin, but free to truly and profitably do right. We must settle for nothing less.
There are many stories of saints who were once in denominations, ignorant of the fact that they were not a Christian. Their search for truth ended in understanding and obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and their life of faith in God. If we all made such a priority for truth, consistently and completely, the world would possess many more convicted, genuine Christians. -Steven McCrary
(1) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966